Urbification: Taking the sub out of Calif. suburbs

Walking. Bicycling. Alternatives to Driving Everywhere. Social justice. Alternatives to suburban boredom and waste. And the infrastructure and technology needed to get there.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Truthiness comes to bicycle advocacy

I start with this classic Stephen Colbert quote:
It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the President because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?
Colbert said this in 2006, referring to conservative misinformation on a variety of issues during the administration of George W. Bush. But the core thought -- "Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything" -- has become the modus operandi and in fact a rallying cry of the organized bicycle advocacy movement, headed by the League of American Bicyclists and various state organizations such as the California Bicycle Coalition.

As a result, segrated bicycle facilities are being proposed and built whose design is based on perception of safety rather than actual empirical evidence.

Now there are some benefits of some of these new facilities, which greatly increase bicycle mode share -- and statistically speaking, bicyclists are safer on these facilities than on many ordinary streets.

However, the evidence suggests that the number and incidence of crashes between bicyclists and motorists actually increases at intersection conflict points.

Those bicyclists who wish to ride on the street rather than on the segregated (cycle track) facility face increased harassment by motorists or even citations by police due to their regarding the cycle track as a bike lane, which it is not, but if it were, cyclist use would be mandatory, at least in California.

Not all cycle tracks are bad, but some are now being proposed, such as on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, which are likely to be the most problematic, hidden behind rows of parked vehicles with entering and exiting pedestrians, and prohibiting mid-block left turning movements by bicyclists, among other things.

I will post other thoughts on this in the future, such as how truthiness came to bicycle advocacy, but meanwhile, I encourage readers to check out the Facebook group, Cyclists are Drivers, for more information.